A new poll from Gallup indicates that 72 percent of Americans — including, for the first time under a Democratic president, a majority of Democrats — see the government as the biggest threat to the future of the country.
The split, including the change since President Obama took office, is remarkable. That 72 percent figure is higher than at any point since Gallup first started asking the question in 1965. "Big government" is seen as three-and-a-half times as big a threat as "big business" and 14 times the threat of "big labor."
The figure for labor, 5 percent, is a record low. The high for business was in 2002, which, Gallup notes, was "after a series of corporate scandals rocked major corporations including Enron and Tyco."
What's particularly remarkable is how the argument that "big government is a threat" has taken hold with Democrats. The pollsters note that Democrats tend to see government as more threatening under a Republican president; the all-time high was in 2005 under President George W. Bush. But more than half of Democrats see big government as the biggest threat to the country's future right now, up to 56 percent from a record low of 32 percent when Obama took office.
Also interesting is a separate finding that Democrats are more likely than their Republican or independent neighbors to consider labor to be the country's biggest threat, though it's still only 6 percent that do. Defying stereotypes, only one-third of Democrats think big business is the biggest threat to the country. Upholding stereotypes — and to Republican strategists' glee — 92 percent of Republicans see government as the biggest threat.
Why the big spike in concern about government? One obvious suspect: the NSA. Even the Republican messaging apparatus isn't good enough to inspire that big a turnaround. But they'll take it.